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PF&R Reduces Overtime $747,000 for FY 2012-2013:

Administrative focus on cutting costs brings overtime down additional 9.3% from last year

Now that the final tally for Portland Fire and Rescue’s fiscal year 2012 – 2013 expenditures are in, PF&R Chief Erin Janssens reports that through tight controls, the bureau decreased overtime spending by $747,000. That’s an 9.3% decrease from last year. Over the past four years, the bureau has reduced overtime costs by 21% (adjusted for inflation).

“Everyone knows we strive to keep people safe and provide excellence in emergency services, but we are also good stewards of taxpayer dollars; we work hard to be as efficient as possible while continuing to be one of the most effective and aggressive urban fire & rescue departments in the nation.” says Janssens. “It was a tough budget year, but by tightening overtime policies and having a cost-effective ‘traveler pool,’ we were able to make a significant dent in these kinds of expenditures.”

Overtime in a fire department is often a complicated manner. Each fire apparatus has minimum staffing requirements (established nationally) in order to respond safely, and effectively to emergencies. This means that if any one of four firefighters at a neighborhood station is sick or on vacation (on approved leave creating a vacancy), that position needs to be filled in order to operate safely and effectively. PF&R utilizes an efficiency called a “traveler pool” – a group of trained firefighters whose assignment is to fill these vacancies from approved earned leave. Through number crunching and modeling, PF&R was able to determine that this is the most cost-efficient approach to staffing at fire stations.

“Portland Fire & Rescue is responding to our city’s need by becoming the sort of modern and efficient fire & rescue department that these economic times call for,” says Fire Commissioner Dan Saltzman. “PF&R continually gets high marks from our citizens for response excellence, so I’m happy to see them also demonstrate the tough fiscal responsibility Portlanders need.”  

Portland City Council Accepts Federal Grant To Replace Risky Firefighter Facepieces

Portland City Council moved to accept and appropriate a grant from the Department of Homeland Security to replace Portland Fire & Rescue's outdated facepieces

facepieces

On the left: A PF&R facepiece that failed from heat. On the right: The new facepiece design.

Today Portland City Council moved to accept and appropriate a grant from the Department of Homeland Security to replace Portland Fire & Rescue's outdated facepieces that are an integral part of a firefighter's self-contained breathing apparatus. These face pieces are the masks that firefighters use to separate themselves from extreme heat, noxious smoke and toxic gasses, while delivering clean air to breathe during firefighting or hazardous material operations.

PF&R needed to replace these pieces of equipment in order to be compliant with National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards. Recent studies (http://www.nist.gov/el/fire_research/scba-120611.cfm) have shown that the facepieces PF&R currently use put firefighters at risk due to failure from thermal degradation of the polycarbonate lenses.

PF&R's selection by the Department of Homeland Security, (through its Federal Emergency Management Agency) to receive a $518,240 grant for the purchase of individual face-pieces for self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) will fund equipment updates long overdue.

"We're extremely pleased to get this grant that will help us make sure our safety equipment meets federal standards and our firefighters will be armed with the tools they need to protect Portland's people, places, and environment," says PF&R Chief Erin Janssens. "Our current facepieces have exceeded their useful life, and have been identified to fail under certain circumstances, so the ability to replace them at this time is an enormous benefit."

Fire Commissioner Dan Saltzman brought the grant to Council in his first ordinance on behalf of PF&R since his assignment a month ago. He said, "PF&R is very aggressive not only in protecting people, but also in pursuing every grant opportunity available that assists in both operational needs and savings to our city. I'm pleased to see this grant appropriated."

Portland Fire & Rescue with Portland Police Lowered the Boom this July 4th: 135 citations valued at $70,500 were issued

Once again, Portland Fire & Rescue and Portland Police teamed up to patrol city streets to confiscate illegal fireworks and write citations.

Once again, Portland Fire & Rescue and Portland Police teamed up to patrol city streets to confiscate illegal fireworks and write citations. Patrols started Thurs, July 3 and continued through Sunday, July 7. Patrol teams wrote 135 citations with a total fine amount of $70,500: that’s almost three times the dollar amount from 2012. Last year, 121 citations were written worth $26,000.

The enforcement operation was coupled with an education campaign using newspapers, radio and social media to explain why illegal fireworks are such a concern to our citizens and public safety agencies. This year, our dispatch center received 573 illegal fireworks complaint calls during the period of  July 3rd, 4 th and 5th.

“Portland Fire & Rescue inspectors, along with our partners at the Police Bureau, worked hard to reduce injuries, property loss, environmental impact, and anxiety to people and pets this Fourth of July season. My hope is that each year our collaboration lessens the problem,” said PF&R Chief Erin Janssens.

Even with beefed up patrols, Portland faced serious public safety issues due to illegal firework usage this year. On July 4th, illegal fireworks caused at least one significant fire at a duplex in Sellwood -- other fires are still being investigated. Additionally, on July 4th Portland Police arrested a man for allegedly setting off an illegal firework in Northeast Portland that misfired and hit an unaffiliated group nearby, sending two of them to the hospital, one with serious burns.

“Illegal fireworks use and misuse are not a victimless crime. Our partnership with PF&R is a great collaboration that allows us to educate and enforce these laws. We want Portlanders to have safe and legal Independence Day celebrations,” said Portland Police Chief Mike Reese.